The San Francisco-based social media giant Twitter notified state and local agencies on Friday of plans to lay off nearly 800 employees who had worked at the company’s headquarters on Market Street.
The layoffs by Twitter under new chief executive officer Elon Musk had prompted a class action lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco by employees who alleged the terminations violated state and federal labor laws.
The suit by attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan on behalf of Twitter employees in the company’s offices in San Francisco and Cambridge, Massachusetts, alleges that Musk’s plans to lay off the employees are not allowed under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, as well as the state’s WARN Act.
The federal law requires employers with 100 or more full-time employees to provide at least 60 calendar days’ notice of a closure or layoff affecting 500 or more employees at a single site of employment.
One employee included in the lawsuit says he was notified earlier this week of his termination without prior notice, while others said they were locked out of their accounts this week.
On Friday, a letter sent by Twitter’s human resources department to the state Employment Development Department and San Francisco city officials said 784 employees at the company’s offices at 1355 Market St. will be terminated, but the layoffs will not take effect until Jan. 4, 2023.
Musk on Friday afternoon acknowledged the layoffs, writing on Twitter that “unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.”
Local politicians were critical of Twitter’s layoffs, including state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, who called Musk’s moves “deeply concerning.”
Wiener said, “While companies periodically engage in layoffs to acknowledge economic realities, firing a full half of employees goes well beyond that. Combined with Musk’s signals that he will allow toxic accounts back onto the platform — thus leading to targeting and incitement of violence against LGBTQ people, Jews, people or color, and others — I see trouble ahead for Twitter, its users, and our democracy.”
State Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, said, “Slashing jobs by the thousands without notice at Twitter, a hostile ‘nightmare’ work environment, creating instability on a site that people use to access critical information just days before an election–don’t defend or justify it, it’s wrong, mean & dangerous.”
Haney said, “We don’t live in a country or state where private companies can do whatever they want at a whim. Laws do apply within the workplace.”